Guide to choosing Dyslexia-Friendly Books for Kids


Guide to choosing Dyslexia-Friendly Books for Kids
to choosing
Books for Kids
WP28080870_DyslexiaGuide.indd 1
15/8/08 14:35:02
Waterstone’s and Dyslexia Action:
Working together to make reading enjoyable for all
At Waterstone’s, we believe the joy of reading to be one of life’s
fundamental pleasures which should be able to be enjoyed by
all. Waterstone’s has supported Dyslexia Action since 2003 as our
chosen charity because we both believe reading to be a vital and
life-enhancing skill. Through our partnership we are able to raise
much-needed funds and increase awareness and understanding of
dyslexia, enabling us to reach many more individuals who otherwise
would not have benefited from the correct help and support. .
Dyslexia Action is a national charity and the UK’s leading provider of
services and support for people with dyslexia and literacy difficulties.
They are specialists in assessment and specialist tuition for children
and adults, with services available from 26 centres and 160 teaching
locations around the country.
As part of our work together we have produced this guide, designed
to help you choose books that are more suitable for a young
struggling/reluctant reader who has dyslexic difficulties. Further
information and a downloadable pdf of this guide may be found
at or
Dyslexia Action
(England & Wales registered charity number:
268502, Scotland: SCO 39177)
Dyslexia Action is the working name for Dyslexia Institute Limited.
Waterstone’s would like to thank everyone who contributed to this guide.
If you are interested in fundraising or would like to make a donation
please contact Dyslexia Action’s Fundraising Office.
T: 01784 222 353
E: [email protected]
WP28080870_DyslexiaGuide.indd 2
15/8/08 14:35:06
children to read
As well as being a vital life skill, research shows that reading is the
source of most of the new words that children learn once they are in
school. The amount someone reads makes a difference not just to
development of reading ability, but to the growth of vocabulary and
general knowledge. Most of all, encouraging reading from a young
age can start a child on a lifetime’s journey of joyful engagement with,
and exploration of, the world around them.
Children are generally taught at school to read using a mixture of
phonics (working words out by sound-letter recognition) and ‘look and
say’ (recognising and remembering words).
About Dyslexia
Dyslexia causes difficulties in learning to read, write and spell.
Short-term memory, mathematical ability, concentration,
personal organisation and sequencing may also be affected.
Dyslexia usually arises from a weakness in the processing of
language-based information. Biological in origin, it tends to run in
families, but environmental factors also contribute. Dyslexia can occur
at any level of intellectual ability.
Dyslexia is not a disease and it cannot be cured. However, it is
possible to help a dyslexic child learn to cope with, and manage their,
difficulties, and reach their potential at school and beyond.
Dyslexia Action believes the best way to help a dyslexic learner of any
age is through specialist tuition, with a trained teacher, that is tailored
to meet the needs of the individual. What can be done will depend on
individual circumstances and individual assessment is recommended.
WP28080870_DyslexiaGuide.indd 3
15/8/08 14:35:06
Signs of dyslexia
Does your child:
Make unexpected errors when reading aloud, miss words out or
read the wrong word?
Take ages to read something and understand it?
Have difficulties learning times tables, days of the week or
months of the year?
Struggle to learn to tell the time?
Find it difficult to remember a list of instructions?
Have difficulties with spelling?
Have difficulties copying from the blackboard?
Have slow and/or poor handwriting?
Confuse, for example, ‘b’ and ‘d’, or ‘9’ and ‘6’?
Struggle to break words down into units of sound?
Have difficulties with rhyming?
Have difficulties learning a nursery rhyme/song?
Spell the same word in a variety of ways?
Excel at some things while having unexpected difficulties
with others?
Find it difficult to remember a series of numbers,
such as a telephone number?
Confuse left and right?
Appear to have miss-heard what you have asked him/her?
Have similar difficulties to one or more blood-relatives?
If you think a child you know might have dyslexia or other reading
difficulties, talk to their teacher, or contact Dyslexia Action.
WP28080870_DyslexiaGuide.indd 4
15/8/08 14:35:09
Supporting dyslexic children
with their reading
You can help a reluctant or struggling or reader who is dyslexic by:
1. Reading to a child - this improves listening skills, broadens interest
in books and improves vocabulary.
2. Shared reading - whereby the adult reads and the child joins in is very useful. Encourage your child to join in by:
• Discussing the book’s content with them, including the
pictures and what may be happening
• Running your finger along the line of print as you read
• Suggest your child joins in by reading some words
• Ask your child to retell the story in their own words
3. Supported reading - this approach encourages the child to read
to the adult, and can gauge whether the child is able to read most of
a book (nine out of every ten words). Encourage this by:
• Looking at the books and pictures together
• Selecting two or three words or main characters to talk about
• Allow a child time to work out words (it is recommended
that you give the word after five seconds)
• Helping with accuracy
• Encourage your child to check guesswork by cross checking
letters in a word
• Ask your child to suggest what the story is about
4. Silent Reading - children need the opportunity to read alone.
5. Fun! - reading should be a pleasure. If you seem like you are
enjoying it your child will pick up on this.
• Make reading part of your children’s daily routine
• Read favourite books over and over again
• Continually praise and encourage
WP28080870_DyslexiaGuide.indd 5
15/8/08 14:35:09
Choosing dyslexia-friendly
books for kids
Dyslexia is complex and affects different individuals differently; written
text may not ever seem friendly for some, while others are avid
readers! A good rule of thumb is, if a child is unable to read five or
more words on a page of a book it is fair to assume that it is too
difficult for them. They will spend all their time trying to read the words
and not enjoying the actual story.
The specialists at Dyslexia Action use a grading system to assess
the suitability of books which looks at the chronological age range
for content that a child will enjoy matched to their reading age. Any
recommendation is subjective - individual tastes are still paramount and this isn’t an exact science, but the books we’ve chosen for this
guide all grade well.
Dyslexia Action recommends that you look out for the following:
The story is of interest to the reader and relevant to his/her age.
Short sentences and paragraphs - these help to maintain interest
and encourage a feeling of progress.
Wide margins and plenty of white space - these encourage
a good reading flow and pace.
Right margins unjustified as it is easier to distinguish between
those lines read and those yet to be read.
Books that have pictures or headings and other signpostings
where appropriate as this helps navigation, and to break up text
into manageable chunks.
Books that are printed on tinted paper - this helps to reduce
the resonance of black text on bright white paper.
Books that are printed in a clear sans serif font that is kerned so
that the letters are easily distinguishable, and in a clear print size of
11pt - but also not insultingly large for the intended age range.
Books that are well-structured and easy to follow - simplicity of
information and syntax make it easier to follow the story.
WP28080870_DyslexiaGuide.indd 6
15/8/08 14:35:12
Oxford Reading Tree
Oxford Reading Tree is used in over 80% of primary schools across
the UK to teach children how to read. Much-loved Biff, Chip and Kipper
stories are at the heart of Oxford Reading Tree. The stories are about
a group of characters and tell an on-going story about the characters’
lives which engages children and motivates them to read on. Early
stories deal with simple incidents with which most children are familiar
– such as their first day at school and a wobbly tooth! These move into
the realms of fantasy adventures as reading skills progress.
It has been developed to teach children to read in finely graded,
progressive stages with natural sounding language. The storylines,
characters and humorous illustrations really engage children and
provide children with something they can really relate to. These
elements make Oxford Reading Tree really suitable for children
with dyslexia and learning difficulties.
Barrington Stoke
Barrington Stoke specialise in publishing books for the reluctant,
struggling or dyslexic reader of ages 8-18+. They have adapted the
language, vocabulary, font, paper colour and layout of their books to
minimise literacy difficulties. The books are gripping stories written by
well-known authors and combine suitable language for the reading
age with content appropriate for the numerical age.
Each book is read by struggling readers of the right age before
publication to make sure it is accessible as well as being a great read.
There is something for every age and interest, and the books are
clearly labelled, to help you choose the right one for your child. The
books will equally appeal to kids with no reading difficulties.
The series is highly recommended by Dyslexia Action for young
dyslexic readers.
WP28080870_DyslexiaGuide.indd 7
15/8/08 14:35:17
Here and on the following pages we’ve recommended a
number of tried and trusted books that young dyslexic readers
may enjoy. Not all of these titles will be suitable for all dyslexic
children and, as with any choice, it is subjective, but by following
the guidelines mentioned you and your child will soon discover
together some great books to enjoy.
Do also ask a bookseller for further recommendations.
for Younger kids...
The Twits by Roald Dahl
ISBN: 9780141322759 / rrp £4.99
Quentin Blake’s unforgettable illustrations
bring this hilarious tale vividly to life.
Quirky, imaginative and very, very silly,
this is perfect for reluctant readers.
Sarah Greenberg, Waterstone’s Harrogate
Legend of Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer
ISBN: 9780141317083 / rrp £4.99
A fantastic book filled with humour and a brilliant
place to start for reluctant readers. If you like this,
follow the brothers’ holiday adventures in ‘The
Legend of Captain Crows Teeth’.
Rachael Bloxham, Waterstone’s Kirkcaldy
WP28080870_DyslexiaGuide.indd 8
15/8/08 14:35:26
Horrid Henry Robs the Bank by Francesca Simon
ISBN: 9781842551325 rrp £4.99
Absolutely hilarious; reluctant and struggling readers
respond really well to the adventures of that most
horrible kid, Horrid Henry. With short and easy
to manage chapters, and brilliantly illustrated
by Tony Ross.
Jenny Lee, Waterstone’s Canterbury
Where’s Wally? by Martin Handford
ISBN: 9781406305890 / rrp £5.99
The classic ‘hunt the hidden character’, the Where’s
Wally? illustrated books are excellent for engaging
dyslexic children. You’ll have hours of fun looking
for the bespectacled one in the detailed pictures,
while kids get used to the format of books.
Justin Hutchison, Waterstone’s Children’s Team
Clarice Bean, Don’t Look Now by Lauren Child
ISBN: 9781846165078 / rrp £6.99
Lauren Child’s creation Clarice Bean has a hilarious
and very definitely different take on the world… The
humorous yet moving stories coupled with the
engaging and expressive artwork ensures strong
appeal for kids of all reading levels.
Kate Phillips, Waterstone’s Oxford
WP28080870_DyslexiaGuide.indd 9
15/8/08 14:35:34
for older kids...
Remember, when choosing for young dyslexic readers, look for:
short sentences
clear and bold fonts
books and chapters that aren’t too long
for younger kids, engaging illustrations that break up the text
brilliant stories
The Kick Off by Dan Freedman
ISBN: 9780439944304 / rrp £4.99
Jamie Johnson wants to be a football star – but
how is he supposed to succeed when even his
mum and friends don’t think he can make it?
This is a fantastic book for the football-mad and
really inspirational.
Tina Everitt, Waterstone’s Harrods
The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
ISBN: 9781405208673 / rrp £6.99
This is great! It has a fantastic opening paragraph,
the narrator is involved throughout the gripping
story which makes an interesting read, and it’s
well-written and action-packed. It’s not a long
book, so it’s great for reluctant readers.
Teresa Gormley, Waterstone’s Warrington
Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce
ISBN: 9780330452922 / rrp £5.99
Nothing ever happens in Manod. That’s why it’s got
the lowest crime rate in the UK. Until a dozen vans
go up the mountain but don’t come down again.
Very funny and very clever, there’s a moral here for
all who read it (and a few art lessons too!).
Chantel Sulaiman, Waterstone’s Chiswick
WP28080870_DyslexiaGuide.indd 10
15/8/08 14:35:50
Candyfloss by Jacqueline Wilson
ISBN: 9780440866459 / rrp £5.99
Jacqueline Wilson is one of the most popular
kids authors ever. Her genius lies in getting inside
children’s heads, convincingly capturing their voices
and feelings. Nick Sharratt’s simple illustrations
punctuate the chapters and help explain the story.
Kate Phillips, Waterstone’s Oxford
Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea by Michael Morpurgo
ISBN: 9780007230587 / rrp £5.99
Ace author of unique stories filled with warmth
and poignancy, Michael Morpurgo is the perfect
alternative to the numerous kids’ fantasy and
spy books. This tells the tale of orphan Arthur
Hobhouse as he’s sent to grow up in Australia after
the Second World War.
Jenny Lee, Waterstone’s Canterbury
Charlie Bone and the Time Twister by Jenny Nimmo
ISBN: 9781405225441 / rrp £5.99
Charlie, the boy who hears voices in pictures,
stumbles across his missing Great Uncle Henry on
his first day back at school. Fans of Harry Potter will
adore this book.
Tina Everitt, Waterstone’s Harrods
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
ISBN: 9780141321066 / rrp £5.99
This is a touching story of how one girl interrupts
the sad and lonely lives of a small group who have
suffered tragedy and brings them together again,
healing over old wounds and bringing new life to
people and gardens alike.
Claire Howells, Waterstone’s York
WP28080870_DyslexiaGuide.indd 11
15/8/08 14:36:05
All prices correct at time of going to press (August 2008). Prices on are online only and may differ from Waterstone’s stores.
for Teens...
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
ISBN: 9780099487821 / rrp £6.99
Set during the Second World War, this fable (as
apposed to fiction) it is told by nine-year-old Bruno,
a German officer’s son. One day he finds out that
his dad is very big with the ‘Fury’ and that they are
moving to ‘Outwith’. Short and compact, this book
shoots straight for the heart.
Ben Chandler, Waterstone’s Lincoln Exchange Arcade
Slam by Nick Hornby
ISBN: 9780141321400 / rrp £7.99
Sam loves music and skateboarding, regularly
talks to his Tony Hawk poster… oh, and he’s just
met Alicia. This excellent story has some hilarious
moments and is a good coming of age novel,
especially for boys.
Sarah Williamson, Waterstone’s Tunbridge Wells
Lord Loss by Darren Shan
ISBN: 9780007193202 / rrp £5.99
A fabulously gruesome book that has more than
just guts and gore (though it has plenty of that as
well!). Darren Shan weaves a scary tale of monsters
and a young boy who witnesses terrrible things
but must confront them again if he is to save the
life of someone close to him. Brillliant.
Claire Howell, Waterstone’s York
Under the Skin by Catherine McPhail
ISBN: 9781842994535 / rrp £4.99
Published by dyslexia-friendly specialists Barrington
Stoke, ‘Under the Skin’ is a pacey, realistic and
humorous book about Omar, a young asylum seeker,
refusing to allow local boy Sam to victimise him.
Claudia Mody, Waterstone’s Children’s Team
WP28080870_DyslexiaGuide.indd 12
15/8/08 14:36:17